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A Green Thumb? You can Grow that


You do have to water stuff, it's okay if you get distracted momentarily.

You do have to water stuff, it’s okay if you get distracted momentarily.

Actually, I think the Green Thumb is a myth. Kate asked to plant wheat in her little garden this spring, then in the same breath, she said it would probably die because she didn’t have a green thumb. She wants wheat because she and her brother have been playing a lot of MineCraft, which is a computer game where you umm, mine, and craft…you build stuff, and dig for stuff, and shear sheep. There are occasionally zombie pigmen that attack, and you have to fight them off, but mostly it is a big sand box to play in.
So when Kate actually wanted to plant real wheat, I was excited- a chance for her to interact with real objects, in real space. And, honestly, wheat is a great choice here- most farmers around here grow winter wheat rather than summer, but we live on the plains- grass grows great here.

Then after you pin your brother, turn the sprinkler off.

Then after you pin your brother, turn the sprinkler off.

Kate has a little garden bed to call her own, but this is the first year in a while she has been interested. A few years ago, DH offered her a dollar for every hot pepper she grew for him. I think she made 4 bucks.

That’s where the myth of the green thumb comes in- people think there are people who can grow things and people who can’t, but really, it is mostly about paying attention- watering the wheat, pulling out the renegade raspberry bushes and mallow. With good soil, and enough water and sunlight, stuff will grow, no thumbs required.

Then chase your brother again. At least they're outside.

Then chase your brother again. At least they’re outside.

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Science Fair- please, no wagering


“When is your science fair?” I asked the Boy one cool evening not long ago.

“I don’t know…” he responds.
Ooops. Hope it isn’t tomorrow, because we aren’t ready.
The Boy is a self proclaimed nerd, and loves science. He is memorizing the periodic table of elements (hint, if he asks you if you want to hear him say the first 37 elements, insist that he sing them. He’ll blush, but he’ll do it!)
He loves weather, and nature, and dinosaurs, and is getting into chemistry, and so there is a lot of pressure to have a really amazing science fair project. Pressure from his peers, but also from himself.
The problem is, we are pretty bad about follow through around here…
We brainstorm, and come up with things…then we get distracted by something shiny.

It turned out that the Science fair was a few weeks away, so we had time to follow through.
So,  the decision for this year was to examine the life growing in the jar of pond water we collected last summer . The 1 quart jar has been in his west-facing window, growing algae and stuff.

Look- follow through! With a map and a video and everything!

Look- follow through! With a map and a video and everything!

When we first collected the samples, we didn’t intend to make it a science fair project. I had read about the project in a garden book, and when I told the Boy about it, he thought it was a neat idea, and nagged me about it until I got a jar, and went with him to the park.

This made the “research question” portion of the science packet problematic… we couldn’t just say the question  was: “wouldn’t it be cool if we had a jar with pond water…?”

So, the research question became: “Can an ecosystem be formed by mixing materials from different sources?”
We took a video of the little critters that are swimming around, and looked at them with our thrift store microscope. With help from the interwebs, he determined that they were daphnia.

The science fair was a success- there was the usual supply of baking soda volcanoes, and several decomposition displays.  The Boy was the only one to have a jar of tiny critters with a water cycle. Our school fair is non-competitive- just an exhibition, not a competition.

This was on someone else's display. Now, I don't know Tyler or Jack H., but I am pretty sure they touched it.

This was on someone else’s display. Now, I don’t know Tyler or Jack H., but I am pretty sure they touched it.

Now we have to think about next year.

Progress on the Duvet Cover


The previous owners of our house finished the basement in idiosyncratic ways- for example, when they installed the basement shower, the drain holes didn’t line up. That’s bad. They also put in a storage system in the playroom with a sewing closet. Open the doors, and there is a desk with a rectangular cut-out for a sewing machine, and little drawers for scissors and bobbins and ribbons and things. That’s good.
The result is that I can leave projects half finished and come back later, without having to clean off a table to sew.
The bad thing is that it is in the basement, which is cold and dark in the winter. In summer, it is great, because when it gets unbearable upstairs in the afternoons, we can go down and play with legos and sew. In the winter, I don’t get much sewing done.IMG_0038

But, today we have a project. So, today, we’ve cleared off the dining room table, brought the sewing machine up, and the ironing board, and we are making some bedding for Kate.

I mused to myself how I would be able to control my “control-freakiness” with Kate, and let her sew without hovering over her.  It turns out, I am not having to, very much. I helped her wind bobbins, pinned some seams on pillowcases, let her sew…and then she kind of got bored. We had 6 long panels, 84 inches by 22 inches, so we sewed them together, then sewed across the top.  Kate drifted off leaving me to zigzag the six long seams and press a hem  in the opening.IMG_0033

Thanks to my panel of experts, who advised me to leave a longer seam allowance, 1/2 inch rather than 1/4, and to zigzag the edges.  IMG_0044

For the opening where the comforter goes in, I have hemmed it, and am thinking about attaching snaps? I am feeling a little lazy, though, and have made comforter covers in the past without them. What are your thoughts? I have snaps in the basement…

Yeah...okay, probably needs snaps.

Yeah…okay, probably needs snaps.

Good-enough Twin Comforter Cover

9 yards cotton quilting fabric, 3 yards each of 3 coordinating fabrics

Cut 25 inches off each fabric length. Choose one that will be the contrasting trim for both pillowcases and cut in half along its width. Set aside.

Cut the selvedges off the long pieces of fabric, and rip them in half along their length. You will have 6 pieces that are 22 inches wide and 83 inches long.

Working with two strips at a time, pin right sides together and sew together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, then sew the pairs together to make one big tube. Pin the seam on the top of the cover, and sew it together. I lined up my seams at the edges, although as I type this, I realize I could have lined it up any which way, so the strips wouldn’t have the seams at the same place. Next time…And of course, you could make the strips any width.

Take time to zigzag the seam allowances and press the allowances to the darker fabric.

The open end is where you will feed the comforter in.  I double-folded the hem and stitched it down, leaving the center open.

This is where I should have put in snaps… and I probably will.

For the pillowcases, sew the 12 inch long piece of accent fabric to the 25 inch long piece, along the width of the fabric, 38 inches. Press the seam toward the 12 inch side- it will be covered with the folded accent fabric. Fold and sew along the bottom and side. Press a half inch hem along the top of the accent fabric and topstitch down to cover the seam that attaches the two fabrics to each other.

 

The perfect is the enemy of the good


IMG_0032This is my motto, or one of them, anyway.  The idea is that if you wait until every thing is perfect, then you will miss out on the good- enough moments. For example, Kate has a new down comforter. Her room is on the east side of the house, so the sun wakes her in the morning, but it means it is pretty cold at night. Especially lately, because she closes her door for privacy. This fall when I saw her layering two comforters and three fleece blankets, in addition to pajamas, I was like, “would you like a down comforter?”
Short answer, “yes.”
So we shopped at all the linens and baths and beyonds and things, (which I hate) and I wound up ordering one on Amazon (which I love). While waiting for it to arrive I started sketching ideas for duvet covers, thinking about embroidery, and patchwork, and scalloped edges.
Now…this was before Christmas, the end of the quarter at my school, while Kate was sick and, even though I didn’t know it, I was about to catch the flu (at least I think it was the flu, I felt terrible, but I hope it makes me immune, because I still haven’t gotten a flu shot.) Seriously, it was a terrible time to start a giant quilty craft project.
So, I didn’t.

But I didn’t want to put the comforter on the bed just naked, it needed a cover.
I didn’t actually buy an official duvet cover- I got a king sized sheet and folded it in half and sewed it together. It was the best thing to have done (well, I acknowledge that maybe just buying a pre-made duvet cover would have been easier, but I have mentioned already I hate shopping.)
Now that Christmas is over, and the new quarter at school has started, and Kate is feeling better, and here’s hoping, that was the flu, not just a random virus and I won’t get sick, we went out and bought some fabric.

The middle one is Kate's favorite- it looks much better IRL- pale green with a swirly resist pattern. My favorite is the top one.

The middle one is Kate’s favorite- it looks much better IRL- pale green with a swirly resist pattern. My favorite is the top one.

We found inspiration in Last Minute Patchwork Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson, where I have found inspiration in the past. It was funny, as we flipped though it, Kate kept finding her quilt, and her brother’s, and one that I started for the guest room but still haven’t finished. It is a great beginner’s quilt book.

We found one that was 2 bold fabrics, in vertical stripes and agreed to adapt it.
We hit the fabric store and Kate found three fabrics she really liked in blues and greens.
We got three yards of each, so we would have enough to make pillow cases as well. (the book has directions for pillow cases with contrasting borders, as well.)

Here’s another opportunity to work on my belief that the perfect is the enemy of the good, because I am going to let Kate sew, as much as she wants to. It will be 6 really long straight seams, and they don’t really have to be that straight, in the grand scheme of things. No school for Martin Luther King Day, so maybe we’ll bring the sewing machine up into the sunshine and work on it.

This almost reads as a solid, but there are little dragonflies up close. Love it.

This almost reads as a solid, but there are little dragonflies up close. Love it.

Watch for photos of progress.

Here’s a question- as I understand it, you don’t finish the seams in a quilt with zig-zag or pinking shears because they will get quilted over, and aren’t likely to fray.  With a duvet cover, should we zigzag? Quilty people? Are you there?

Pancreas don’t care


We have had a rough fall with health problems for Kate, my baby girl, who resents it highly when I call her my baby girl.
She had a severe stomach ache back in October, with vomiting that wound her up in the hospital. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis, which is unheard of in 12 year olds. They sent her home, and she trick-or-treated on Halloween, but didn’t feel 100%.
A virus bounced her back into the hospital- not the pancreas this time, but dehydration. They chalked it up to her immune system being worn out from the pancreatitis, and an overreaction. When her brother got the same virus, but milder, we felt oddly reassured.
She was better, still not 100%, but we went into Thanksgiving break feeling good- she could catch up on missed schoolwork, sleep in and get better. Then the Saturday after thanksgiving, she got another stomach ache, started puking, and was generally miserable. When we took her to her pediatrician, he told us to get in the car and drive to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora, about an hour away. Our pediatrician didn’t have the authority to admit her, but he had been talking to a GI specialist, and they would be expecting her.
A week of driving back and forth, rating pain on a scale of 1-10 and watching cable TV. She was better, but still not well. x-rays, ultrasounds and an MRI followed, then a procedure scheduled. ERCP (huh?) a tube to look down and remove a stone from her pancreatic duct, turns out it wasn’t a stone, just a stricture, a narrowing, that was preventing the digestive enzyme from draining into her small intestine. Essentially, her pancreas was digesting itself. No wonder she had tummy aches.
The pancreas does 2 main things, I have recently learned. It makes insulin, so the body can use glucose, and it makes lipase, so the body can use fat. All that stuff you know about saturated fat versus unsaturated? Pancreas don’t care- fat is fat, and when fat goes through the stomach, pancreas releases lipase.

Before thanksgiving she had chicken fried steak and onion rings. Thanksgiving day, rolls and butter and
pie with whipped cream. Black Friday, a McDonald’s hashbrown and hot cocoa with whipped cream. Saturday, chicken Parmesan and shiny breadsticks.  So delicious. But agony for her almost-maybe-healed pancreas.

So, they placed a stent, and for the first time in months, she is pain-free.

And, on doctor’s recommendation, on a low fat diet- less than 15 grams of fat per day.

All these years I have been keeping sugar out of the house, we hardly ever drink pop, we eat plain, unsweetened cereal. It turns out I have been fighting the wrong demon. It was the fat that was hurting her.

So, how do we change our diets, lifestyles, to have much less fat than we were previously, much less than most people in the US eat? I am not cutting fat out of my diet entirely- my hair would fall out, for one thing. But to show solidarity, we are switching to skim milk, and nonfat cheese, and I don’t know what else, yet. The puzzle is, how to keep a girl going through her growth spurts healthy and happy on 15 grams of  fat a day.  Most advice on low-fat cooking is also low-calorie cooking. She needs to learn to love fruits and veggies, I know that much.

So, I will have to experiment with low fat stuff- some I can just substitute out, but some I will need to work on.

I was going to post a lowfat meatball recipe…but it needs work. A lot of work. Like…I’m not even going to put the pictures in.  Any tips? America’s Test Kitchen has a “healthy” cookbook, so I’ll try that. What else?

The Ubiquitous Mason Jar


lots of duckweed, little bit of water

We went to the river park this week. There are steps down to the Big Thompson river, where you can float or splash, or put in your tubes and drift down the river. We didn’t bring tubes, but ran into friends who shared with Kate.  There are sprayers where the little kids can shriek and splash and get soaked in relative safety, and there is a bridge under which the water slows down a little, spreads out into shallows, where you can look for crawdads. This is where we spent the bulk of our time. The boy discovered that when crawdads are really little, they just tickle when they pinch.

In Gaia’a Garden (I know, terrible title, great book) there is a description of a project where you take water samples from several different places, with plants and muck and life, mix them in a mason jar, put the lid on and then watch. The idea is that you are mixing elements and creating an ecosystem that is not quite pond, not quite river, not quite lake, but a blend of the three.
I told the boy about the mason jar project at bedtime, and he was fired up- he couldn’t think about anything else. Right after breakfast he asked for a jar, and kept asking when we could go. Obviously, I needed coffee first. And there was that pesky dental appointment…

We went out in the afternoon, after a wonderful thunderstorm. There is a wetland by Kate’s school, but no way to get to open water, so we wound up going to the Sculpture park near our house. This park has a chain of wetlands, culverts and open water, so we were able to find swampy still water, fast running aerated water, and duckweed covered water.

This lake is usually deeper than this…

The final piece of the puzzle was mud, from the reservoir. They have been lowering the water level alarmingly, and we had to walk out quite a ways in the mud. It was pretty gross.

The water is clearing, and the mud has settled, and we can see stuff swimming around.  The boy had high hopes for a minnow, but I don’t think we caught one.

Yes, I am aware of what 3 cups of pond water would smell like if it spilled on top of legos. We would probably have to move. But, we are also trying not to spill.

Contagious Crazies


This morning I was insisting that Kate* comb her hair before leaving the house, no, really comb it, not just wave the comb in the general direction of her head, and she said, “You just hate that you have an ugly child, and you want to make me perfect!”
The thing is, Kate looks strikingly like me, scarily like me, except for hair (hers is naturally a to- die-for auburn, mine goes back and forth between brown, and to-dye-for auburn) and eye color (Her eyes are hazel, mine blue)  We have the same face, nose, hair texture. We’ll probably have the same body type- (late-blooming) tall and thin. If I believe that I gave birth to an ugly child, then I believe I am an ugly person. If she believes that I believe that I gave birth to an ugly child….she believes she’s ugly. And that I’m ugly.

I just want her to comb her hair.

Some of this is bubbling up because she is finishing 6th grade and going into 7th- it is a natural stage for her to criticize her looks, when everything is changing too fast, but not fast enough.

Some of this is bubbling up for me because I have been consciously dieting for the first time in a long time.

With my “baby” almost 9 years old, I have decided I need to really work on that baby weight…I have been doing yoga pretty regularly for almost 2 years, and generally exercising more.  Also, for two years, I have been stuck in the no- man’s-land of pant sizes- 16 is too big, 14 is too small, I waver in between, depending on the brand. I have always hated shopping, and this makes it even worse- taking in 2 sizes of everything into the dressing room, being unsatisfied with all of it. Coming out of the dressing room believing I’m ugly.

Odd- It is awkward right now, publicizing my pant size- my inner voice saying, oh my god, don’t tell them that!  I’ll tell you my credit card number before I tell you my weight.

It was 186 pounds a few weeks ago. I don’t own a scale, and the only one I know of is at the pool, and we haven’t been swimming for a while. I get a little psycho when I weigh myself, anyway. I suspect many people do, but we don’t much talk about it. It’s a secret number.

The diet program I am using is an app for my iPod called My Fitness Pal (link) I put in my weight, and height and level of activity, and how much weight I’d like to lose. Each day I add the food I eat, and the exercise, and it totals up the calories and fat and protein and subtracts the calories from exercise, and at the end of the day there’s a little graph showing whether I was on target for the day, or over, or under.

I have set the goal of losing a pound a week, and it made me pretty neurotic for a while (noooo…that’s not what made you neurotic…) but this week, it is having the effect of making me aware, and conscious of what I put in my mouth. For example, I often stop at the grocery store by my school on the way home and get a doughnut and coffee on the way home.  I deserve it, right? Um, sure, but the latte is 250 calories, and the doughnut is 250 calories, and that is really a lot, for it not to be a real meal. Today I didn’t stop, I came home and had some peanut butter on toast. It sure wasn’t a doughnut…but it had some nutrition, at least.

So, as a fretful mother of a middle schooler, I worry that this consciousness, this awareness, or hyper-awareness, is rubbing off on my sweet girl. When I first started tracking, she said she wanted to track her food too, so she could fit in with the other girls who are on diets. Ack!

So, how does this work? How do I improve the way I look, without rejecting how I look? How do we minimize the craziness?  I just want to be able to button my pants, and it has opened up a can of crazies. Or maybe the crazy can would have been opened anyway. What are your thoughts?

*the girl has decided she wants to be referred to by her real name. “How am I supposed to get famous if you just keep calling me ‘the girl?'”

 

Bear Sweaters


My mom likes to take the grand-kids to lunch and shopping for birthdays. She has more fun doing this than shopping alone for something that might not be just right. The kids look forward to it, too.  She was in town recently, and took the Girl out for Chinese food and a motorized hamster habitat. I mean, a habitat for a motorized hamster. Then she took my nephew to McDonald’s and Build a Bear Workshop.

I hate going to Build a Bear, but I appreciate it as a distributor of magic.  I’ve recently learned a definition of magic as the “change of consciousness in accordance with will.”  When I heard that definition,  Build-A-Bear jumped into my mind. They help change the consciousness of their core customer base. Purchasing a bear (or monkey,which is what my nephew picked) involves a ritual of wish making and swearing fidelity and secret sharing that helps hold a child back in childhood. Some days it seems like the Girl has the pedal down to the floor trying to be a teenager. She’s  not wise beyond her years, because she doesn’t have the wisdom, but she’s too smart for her own good sometimes.  Somehow, a pink bear, named Pinky ,naturally, slows her down a little.

In addition to being an outpost of magical thinking, Build a Bear is also a money factory- My mom was appalled, “$3.50 for a pair of underwear, you can get a six pack of underwear at Walmart for 5.99!”

But this underwear has tail-holes…

World, meet Eliabeth. Elizabeth, this is the world. Sorry, no underwear...

It gives me an excuse to knit. I have made several bear sweaters, and they are pretty quick and easy. My nephew picked a brown monkey which he named Elizabeth, and when my mom told me about it, I cast on a sweater immediately.   Elizabeth’s monkey sweater may be a touch tight- I probably should have done a gauge swatch, but I hate to do them, especially when the sweater itself is so small.

I had leftover sock yarn- I don’t know exact yardage, but less than a full skein- there was some unrolling and starting in strange places on the ball to get the stripes to line up- if you use a solid color, you can just go straight. Certainly less that 200 yards of yarn, maybe around 100?

This construction method works for any size sweater, I have made them for myself, the kids, babies. I learned it from “Knitting without Tears” http://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Without-Tears-Easy—Follow/dp/0684135051/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318000347&sr=1-1   I checked it out from my local library.(also, I get no money if you follow the link- Amazon won’t do business with Colorado bloggers because of our tax laws)

Once you understand the technique for bears or dolls, you can scale it up.  If you have made hats, you can do this- the only tricky part is grafting the armpits, and you can find Youtube videos that show grafting. Just search knitting grafting, by the way, if you look for grafting armpits, you find weird stuff about hair transplants…

Percentage System Bear Sweater

Figure out the bear’s chest size- 16″ is pretty common. Don’t forget a little ease- extra space for the poor monkey to breathe, and dance, and move in.

Figure out the stitches per inch on the yarn you have and the needles you want to use. I was using fingering weight, and size 5’s, which gives me a gauge of about 3.75 stitches per inch.  I cast on 60, which I thought would be perfect, but it’s a touch tight. Oh well. With bigger needles and thicker yarn, 60 would probably be perfect.

I did about 1/2 inch of 2×2 ribbing. I changed to stockinette when the color changed, and increased 6 stitches evenly around.

Knit up the body about 4 inches.

Cast on 30 stitches for one sleeve- use two circulars  or double pointeds  I like the circulars better, but I couldn’t find any size fives available, so I used the doubles. Do the ribbing to stockinette switch the same way as the body, increasing by 10% when you get done with ribbing. I knit the sleeve until it looked about the right length and also matched up with the color changes on the body- it would have bugged me if the stripes had been way off. Did second sleeve same way.

Here’s the tricky part- put the sleeves and body on the same needle, with waste yarn on the 6 armpit stitches. So here’s how it looks- 28 arm stitches, 27 front of the body stitches, 28 arm stitches then 27 back stitches. Knit 2 rows, then at each place where the sleeves meet the body decrease 2 by knitting two together, then knitting 1, then knitting another two together. Do this every other row until you have decreased to 40% of the original body. Actually, stuffed animal heads are crazy big- I don’t think I did 40% on this one. I asked Pinky for help and tried it on her when it felt like it would be about right. Then I forgot to count, and I have already given the sweater away.

My nephew loved it, and Elizabeth seemed to like it, too. She’s very verbal for a stuffed monkey.

"OOH OOH! AAH AAAH!" that means she likes it.

The armpits for this are pretty tricky, but not impossible- they take grafting, which to me is like magic, (except not according to the above definition) because you are using a sewing needle to create a row of knit stitches. Take the stitches off the waste yarn and put them back on two needles. Thread the tail of yarn onto a large-eyed tapestry needle. Take a deep breath. Hold the knitting needles parallel in one hand. Then insert the needle knitwise into the needle in front, drop it off the knitting needle, and insert the sewing needle purlwise into the next stitch, but don’t drop it off. Then insert the needle purlwise into the first stitch on the back needle,  drop it off, and insert it knitwise into the next stitch. Repeat this until all six are off the needles. Check out Youtube- it is probably easier to see it than read it.  You can stitch up the roughly triangular holes that form at either end while you weave in the ends of the yarn. This same technique can be used for sock toes. I also used it for the sucky shawl I made but still haven’t figured out what to do about.

This Lid


Battered enamel, a little rust, but a lot of life left.

DH’s grandma is selling her house, and letting go of things she has had for years. I am amazed by how graceful she is at this- in the past few years,  she has given up living on her own, so she selected things to take with her to her daughter’s (my wonderful MIL’s) house. She has let go of her car, and has now made the decision to sell her house. I think we were all surprised at how fast it sold- 24 hours after it went on the market, they had an offer, and they will close in the middle of September. We went over  last week to help clean and box things, and hear stories. In the grand scheme, there isn’t that much stuff.

“Clean Sweep” is  a guilty pleasure TV show- I watch it, and think, “Well, I’m not as bad as those people!” One of my favorite people on it is Peter, the Australian guy. People on the show will be reluctant to get rid of something and they’ll say, my mother gave me that, and he’ll say, “this is not your mutha” in his Australian accent. He’s adorable.

At GGM’s house, I was talking about my guilty pleasure, and  I  picked up an enameled metal lid and said, “This is not your mutha” hoping to make people laugh, and GGM took it from me. She  said,  “One time I was cooking dinner, and my mother was there, and I had just put a pie pan on top of the pan, to cover it, and she said, “don’t you have a lid?” and I said no, and the next time she came to visit, she brought this one.”

I thought it was a cute story, and figured it was when she was first married, and just getting her house set up.

Um, no.

Great-Grandma had been in her 70’s, which meant that Great-Great- Grandma had been in her 90’s.  Moms. We never give up.

Of course, I asked if I could have the lid- it is now  on the cast iron skillet that lives on my stove top. I will use it every day, and tell the story to whomever will listen. There is a lot of stuff in my house that is clutter, but this lid is meaningful, and deserves to have a place of honor on the stove.

Tie Dye in the Rain


Super concentration is required for application of the blue...

To aid in the Girl’s quest to wear non-matching socks, I suggested tie dye- she wanted to turn it into a party, but I have control issues- We have done tie dye parties before, and they aren’t that much fun for me.
We kept it small- a tee shirt, an 8 pack of socks, and some muslin scraps to play with- they’ll be quilt pieces, or gift bags, or whatever. I had a bunch of semi circles left from our angel costume experience, so I figured we’d dye them and play with them. I also have a biggish piece of white canvas that I wanted to dye to make a summer purse. Yes, I know what month it is. It’s just that I have misplaced the summer purse that I got at the zoo last year (seriously, has anyone seen it? you know, batik, in kind of blues and greens, with a Chinese coin clasp?) and I’ve been carrying an olive drab one that is just the right size, but kind of ugly. But I digress.

I used corn syrup as a resist to make squiggles on the canvas. I  saw instructions in the last issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Or maybe Quilting Arts magazine- I have a hard time keeping them straight.  The shirt and socks we just rubber banded the usual way. We bought a kit, which comes with bottles and gloves and instructions, for about 10 dollars.

We set up the plastic tablecloth on the back porch, mixed up the dye according to instructions and went crazy. Actually, the Girl went crazy, and I went all control-freaky on her. “are you sure you want to mix all three colors? You have to go easy on the… now it’s just…don’t squeeze so hard…would you just…” And then it started to rain. She went inside.

You can see the splotchy socks, but otherwise, it's a pile of success.

The results? The muslin scraps are really cool- I’m thinking of something with wonky log cabin? There’s not enough for a quilt, maybe a pillow cover, or gift bag? For the uninitiated, a log cabin pattern is a traditional quilt pattern with narrow rectangles surrounding a small square. A wonky log cabin is when none of the angles are 90 degrees, so each block is kind of crooked.

The Girl’s shirt has a few brown patches, but is otherwise cool.  The socks aren’t great- they are a cotton spandex blend, and didn’t soak up the dye very well.

My favorite piece is the canvas, though- the corn syrup formed an incomplete resist- some color went through, so there are light patches, rather than pure white. I got up the nerve to cut it up to make a new summer purse. Yes, I knowwhat month it is! But just think, I have until next summer to finish it.

I just need some d-rings and webbing for a strap, and we're good to go.

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